Coffee, Theology and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

Tag: prayer

Christian Millennials: It’s the Thought that Counts?

I love my generation.

I really do.

There’s not doubt we are part of an exciting time.  Technology does things our parents only saw in the movies.  We have been the first generation to grow up with things like social media, cellphones and the world wide web.  My generation helped start organizations like kickstarter which let’s people give money to projects they want to see become a reality.  A few of us founded some world changing charities, some have become pastors to usher in the next generation of the Church and others still are on the cutting edge of medical health and sciences.

But…

And there’s always a but.

What about the majority of us?

Let’s face it, every generation has their few stars who rise to the top and do amazing things.  But what about the rest of us? .  What are we supposed to do?  Or maybe a better question to ask is are we fooling ourselves?
You see I know the my generation is aware of the world’s problems. I know if I ask my friends the question ‘what is wrong with the world’ that they can give me answers.  But what are we doing about it?

You know what I think we are doing about it?
We are “liking” it on facebook and patting ourselves on the back for it.  We dump water on our head, put a big red X on our wrist, we like pages for certain causes and we make sure we tell everyone on our social media accounts that today is national “insert major cause here” day.

But is this helping?

I suppose on a pure awareness level that doing things like that helps to raise “awareness” of that issue.  But if it stops there, then we’ve really missed the mark especially when the Jesus we follow lived a life of hands on ministry.

You see for the all the good my generation has done, I see one glaring flaw.

We.Are.Selfish

Now humans are in general selfish there’s no doubt about it but thanks to a materialistic culture in thought and a prosperous culture in reality my generation has, in many ways never had it easier, and still demands to do things our way with very little room to listen to the generations who have come before us.

We’ve fled the church by the hundreds of thousands

We think we know it all and when we disagreed, we took the easy way out and left our faith institutions instead of doing our best to work together to be co-workers in the Kingdom of God

We’ve decried the faith of our fathers for not being authentic enough while making our own faith up by only taking parts of the Bible we’ve deemed radical and organic.  We’ve tossed the baby out with the bathwater.
And I’m one of them.  I’ve made these mistakes.  I left the Church angry and frustrated.  Many times my reasons were valid but my reactions we were anything but.

Jesus prays to the Father that we are one Church and I’m afraid to admit that at times, I’ve contributed to the very thing that frustrated me.  Division and drawing lines in the sand that hinder the spread of the Gospel, not grow it.

For my generation to start changing our cultures, we need to be proactive participants and not annoying bystanders.  What good is it to point out all of the problems with the world if we won’t get in the mud and start working on solutions together?

We can rant on Facebook, we can write blogs about the problems of the world (pun intended) and we can walk around thinking we know better.  But if we aren’t willing to actually move and take action then we are nothing but the people we criticized in previous generations.

As long as we keep thinking the world revolves around us and our rights and our wants and our dreams I can assure you we won’t see much change.  Jesus tells us that if we want to find our life we must first lose it.  James tells us that true religion is to look after the widow and the orphan (AKA – Not looking after yourself).  The disciples gave up their entire lives so the gospel would be spread to the ends of the earth.  Many of them lost their lives because of it but Paul counted it joy because unlike our self-centered culture, Paul knew that what mattered wasn’t what he did for himself, but the impact he made on people around him to spread the good news of the gospel.

We (millennials) might have these grandiose thoughts about how to change the world but if we don’t put the work in to make those ideas a reality then they are useless to everyone except ourselves.  We trick ourselves into thinking that if we are aware of an issue and we stand against it in our hearts then we’ve done our moral Christian duty by publicly saying “I’m against this!” or “I’m for that”.  I promise your words although well intended do very little to change the status quo,

When it comes to our faith the words we say are only the beginning. If there is no tangible actions behind our words than our faith is pretty much useless as James tells us.

So where do you start? When faced with the world’s problems it can get pretty overwhelming pretty fast.  Start with little things in your life that you can do to start changing things you know that are harmful to yourself, other people, or the environment.

My girlfriend recently has decided to cut back on her use of disposable items such as plast silverware, straws, cups plates and bags.  She decided that she didn’t want to add to the problem of throwing away items that the earth can’t break down and reuse.   A simple lifestyle change that over time will help to reduce the amount of waste we bury underground.

You want to help the generation coming up behind you? Then find a place you can volunteer to start being a role model

You want to feed the homeless? Then volunteer at a shelter and be the hands and feet of Jesus

You want to fight Human Trafficking? Then get in touch with an organization and see how you can help.

Don’t just dump water on your head, don’t just draw a big red X and throw in on social media so people can admire your good work.  Get in the dirt with us and start impacting people.

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The Boston Bombings: A Sobering Reminder

I was removing wallpaper when I got the news. My brother tells me “Boston just got bombed!”. At first I thought it was a hoax circulating the internet so I checked CNN and read for myself that two bombs did indeed go off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing at least three people including an 8 year old child. Although there has been no definite answers, the bombs do appear to be home made and there’s no doubt that the attacks were well planned out.

People’s lives in that second were changed forever. People lost limbs, average citizens had to become paramedics until first responders were on sight, and for some time after the second explosion, we all were wondering if there were more than two bombs planted in the city. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.

I want to be clear right up front, these attacks were acts of terrorism. It doesn’t matter who did it, if it was from domestic terrorist, political terrorist, left-wing, right wing, Islamic, Christian, it’s an act of terror. A child lost his life, the bombs were constructed to inflict a lot of damage, and it is indeed a sad day for America. But there’s something that we often fail to forget that this is a sobering reminder of. People all over the world experience things like this everyday.

Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to pop our bubble. In America, we are fortunate enough to live relatively safe. Most Americans don’t have to worry about being gunned down, bombs are not common, and we have a fantastic government when it comes to national security. Police, bomb squads, state of the art technology, we are fortunate. Yes, yes, we gripe about government waste and over reach, but we forget that most people don’t even get an opportunity to voice their opinion. Be grateful that you can be a loud outspoken activist for your cause and not get imprisoned by your government.

Anyway, back to my point. There are children every day who deal with the tragedy of bombings. For instance, on April 15thInsurgents in Iraq deployed a series of car bombs as part of highly co-ordinated attacks that cut across a wide swath of the country today, killing at least 55 on the deadliest day in nearly a month.” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/15/iraq-bombings-wave-attacks.html). Think about that, in one day 55 people were dead. And let’s not forget, these people are just as much people as Americans are. Now, I’m not diminishing the Boston attacks, or trying to make the Boston bombing less real, it is indeed very real for not only the families of the victims, but for the nation. But what I am saying is to take this moment to feel how many people feel everyday.


See here is the problem. Sometimes, in all of our hustle and bustle we kind of forget that there is a world outside of America that is starkly different from ours. We forget that all over the world there is terrorism happening everyday, that children are being sold, slavery is still a big problem, and bombings are a daily routine. Things like the Boston bombing, as heinous as they are, remind us that there is a reality out there that we are rarely used to seeing. A tragic reality for many people.


As Christians, it is our job as followers of Christ to be aware of the whole world around us. In a ever connected world, it is easier than every to hear of stories happening all over the place. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming we don’t know what to do with it, but it is in these moments that the Holy Spirit reminds us that He has us where we are for a reason. I’ve am being reminded even as type this, that prayer is an incredibly powerful tool that we sometimes underestimate because we either don’t see, or miss, the fruit of it. But sometimes, prayer is all we can do. I can’t drive up to Boston and help out there. Not only will the FBI stop me from being on the scene, I literally have no knowledge in such areas. But what I can do is ask my heavenly Father to bring his spirit of comfort to those people. What I can do is ask the God who spoke us in to existence, who holds all of eternity in His hands, who is the great I Am, the first and the last, to comfort those people, to bring those evil doers to justice, and to make His kingdom come. Prayer is a powerful thing, one of the greatest tools in our arsenal, we (I) should be using it a lot more.

In closing, here are two action steps we as followers of Christ can start taking.

  1. Be more aware of the world outside of your comfort zone. God cares about every person, not just the ones that have certain nationalities. God knows every person personally and they were wonderfully and fearfully made.
  2. Pray more. Let’s face it, most of us can’t fly over to Iraq and start diffusing bombs, but we know a God who can. We know a God who can bring his Kingdom to earth, let’s start to pray for that everywhere.

Denominations: A kingdom divided cannot stand.

Picture a mirror. Now picture that mirror with thousands of little cracks in it. Cracks that distort your reflection as look at yourself. This is what denominations do to the body of Christ. Extreme statement? Maybe, but Christ’s prayer was that we (His Church) were one as He and the Father were one. I think we dropped the ball on that.

There are thousands of denominations inside Christianity with their own set of of beliefs, principles, practices, and emphasis. They all like to think that they have church figured out more than the other denominations.

Here’s the glaring problem, we have made denominations walls that cut us off from other parts of the Church. Oh, disclaimer, when I say Church I’m not talking about your local Church body, I’m talking about THE Church, the big picture Church, the Church that we are all apart of. Anyway, as I was saying denominations have become walls, dividers, that have not joined us together but have segregated us. We are comfortable working with people who are inside our denomination, but working with Christians (your other brothers and sisters) outside your denomination? Now I’m just talking crazy. Here’s the crazy part, Christ, if he were here today would be heartbroken at how divided we are.

We have this mentality in the Church that our local Church we are a part of (or for most of us, attend) is the only Church that has it right. We are convinced that the only church body that matters is ours, or our parent/sister/brother/aunt/cousin church (meaning the other churches in our comfortable little circle that we say we partner with about once a year for something). I don’t understand it. I’m convinced that the Church is the only organization that not only is divided, but is literally cut off from itself. This is the kind of thing Paul warns the Corinthians about.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-21 ESV)

Paul hits it out of the park. If you’re a leader in a local Church reading this blog then take that Scripture to heart. Our identity is Christ, not our denomination, not our programs, or our ministries, or anything else. Our identity as a Christian is Christ! We ALL have the same identity, so why are we so DIVIDED! Forgive my use of capital letters, I am just so fired up that we can claim to be Christians and yet over look these parts of Scripture, or worse, we can take a section like I just posted and apply it only to our local Church that we serve in. Notice how Paul says we are in one Spirit baptized in one body, not a local body, not an individual body, one body. Do not apply this scripture only to your expression of the Church, Paul is talking big picture here.

Can we as Christians have different views on some issues? Absolutely. But should these things divide us as deep as they have? Absolutely not. It is in direct conflict with the heart of Christ. (See John 17).

Rob (the other writer for this blog) and I have some stark differences. In fact they are so stark that we probably won’t be planting a church together anytime soon. But these differences do nothing to sever our relationship as brothers in the same Kingdom worshipping the same God. We eat together, we share views together, we talk and hangout, we have great times together and we still have different views on things inside the faith.

America doesn’t need more church buildings, it doesn’t need more expressions of the local church, it needs a united Church. In New Jersey there are roughly 3 church buildings every square mile. We have plenty of church buildings, but a kingdom divided can’t stand. Until we are willing to bridge the denominational divide, we will continue to stifle Church growth, but more importantly we are stifling the growth of the Kingdom of God. We fight over things that are sometimes so ridiculous, our cultures look at it and says “seriously?”

What’s my solution? Here are a few.

1. Make every effort to connect with other local churches in your immediate area. Invite the pastors to lunch and talk about how to be more unified and then actually do things together with your congregations. For instance, what if the Churches in your area organized a park cleanup day? Or what if the Churches in your area went to the mayor’s office and asked what you could all do together to serve the community.

2. Take a week off from your Church service and go worship the same God with another local church body in your immediate area. I recommend doing this often. Not only does it give your pastor, worship band, and other people who help run the Sunday morning service a break, it starts to bridge the gap between local Churches. After all you are trying to reach the SAME community, why the heck would you not talk to each other?

If we are to be followers of the teachings of Christ, if we are to have His heart, then uniting the Church must be a top priority. But we are a prideful bunch, we don’t like to change and conform to someone’s [inferior] view. We don’t like to admit that we were wrong. We’d much rather be comfortable with our circle of believers, then to get uncomfortable and have some difficult conversations with other believers.

I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23 ESV)

What God REALLY wants from us – Rob

I think its a common thing to consider, “What does God want from me?”  I have often found myself trying to “figure out” what it is that God wants from me.  How on Earth am I to know what the God of eternity wants me to do?  Should I be really concerned about my choice of Raisin Bran over Cheerios this morning because maybe it was “God’s will” for me to eat the Cheerios?  Of course, I am not saying that God doesn’t care about our decisions and that whatever we decides becomes the will of God.  What I have had on my mind for some time isn’t a 10 step process to figure out what God’s will is in every situation.  I do have a one step process to know the mind of God.  I’m sure more able men/women could spend months explaining what I’m going to say in just a few words.

What I do not understand is that the answer to the question of knowing God’s will seems somewhat simple to me.  Let’s look at it a different way for a second.  My mom and dad have been together for over 30 years.  I think it is safe to say that they know each other pretty well.  My dad can be out at the store and can pick up a few things for my mom without calling and asking.  He can easily make decisions based on what my mom would want or like.  Why is that?  I would venture to say it is because he knows her.  Would it not make sense to apply that to God?  How am I to know God’s will?  Would it not be by knowing God?  I don’t know if that is too simplistic but it makes complete sense to me.

It is no surprise to most, especially Tim, that my favorite book of the Bible is Romans.  Well, I’m not getting this from Romans so fear not.  If I had to pick the wisest person in the Bible (beside God) I have a name in my mind that I would put in there right away.  Who would you say holds that place?

My opinion?  Oh I would go with Solomon.  So, if I am looking for someone to explain to me how I can “know God’s will” or “know God” who better to rely on than Solomon?  Let me take you to my favorite verse.  This verse has challenged me and changed me more than any other single verse

 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.       ~Proverbs 23:26

What a tremendous request.  God isn’t here asking for my knowledge, my money, my time, my education, my job, my car, etc.  Giving away all of my possessions won’t bring me an inch closer to God.  Giving away all of my money won’t find me more favor with the Lord.  Giving all of my time to benefit others won’t lift me to a better standing before God.  God is asking for my heart.

So how does this all go together?  Well, in my mind, it goes something like this.  Giving God my heart is really the epitome of submission and all out devotion.  Is that not what we mean when we say about athletes that “he plays with all his heart” or about a guy, “he gave her his heart?”  It is the deepest and truest meaning of giving something or someone your all.  God requires our submission and devotion.  In return?  He gives us Himself.  Oswalt Chambers once wrote, ” It is not that you have gotten God, but that He has gotten you.” Obviously, the more God has of us the more we will want to do for Him.  But it starts with giving God my heart.  I shouldn’t have to sit for months on a decision about what God wants me to do.  If God had my heart and I knew Him as I should, it would be so very easy to say “oh well this is what God would want.”  That all comes from spending time with Him in prayer, reading His Bible, talking with Him, meditating about Him, and enjoying Him in so many ways.  The key is to first give Him my heart.  The rest will follow.  God will never force someone to follow Him (not even a true Christian).  We are free-will beings and have the choice to follow Him.  When I gave God my heart my perspective changed and I started to see things as God sees them.  My view is still cloudy sometimes but I believe in Proverbs 23:26 we are given the promise that we can observe the ways of God!

How do we figure out God’s will?
We get to know God!

How do we know God?
We give Him our hearts and let Him do the rest!

What does God REALLY want?
Our hearts!

With a word the world came to be
and the sun did rule the sky.
With a breath the land came from sea
and the mountains did grow high.
My voice cried forth and brought to life
all the creatures I had made.
But with a breath I rolled the dice
on this man before me laid.
In everything that I had done
and the love I would impart,
I could not stop this war begun
or take from him his heart.
Pleading with man to just stay near,
not wander far from me,
I sent my Son, His mission clear,
to die upon a tree.
His cross cries out louder than words
the reason he came to die.
Yet the message remains unheard
as salvation you deny.
I do not ask what you can do
or give to do your part.
Instead my call goes out to you,
“My son, give me your heart”